1. derivational suffix – used in creating new words sometimes even by changing a word class
  2. marker – used to mark plural and possession
  3. inflectional suffix – used to define the position of a nominal phrase within the sentence

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A derivational suffix may be followed by another derivational suffix, a marker or inflectional suffix; a marker may only be followed by an inflectional suffix; an inflectional suffix ends the word and cannot be followed by anything else. For example:

vacsora (dinner) – vacsorák – vacsorát – vacsorákat – vacsorára – vacsorákra

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lakik (he/she lives) – lakás – lakások – lakást – lakásokat – lakásokban – lakásom – lakásomat – lakásomban

Postpositions play a role similar to that of suffixes. However, in contrast to prepositions of the Indo-European languages, they, just as with endings, follow the phrase as is shown by their name. The difference between suffixes and pastpositions is that the latter are not directly written with the nominal phrase: vacsora után (after dinner), vacsora előtt (before dinner).

Studying this language is made easier by the fact that Hungarian nouns have no gender and consequently gender-specific articles do not exist either. In addition word class endings are missing as well.

Adjectives and numerals are declined only if they are not followed by nouns (that is in cases when they take the function of nouns). In such cases they acquire the same endings as nouns. However, there is no need for them to agree with each other. Thus, if an adjective or numeral functions as an attribute within the sentence, i. e. followed by a noun, only that noun must be declined: Két hideg limonádét kérek. (Two cold lemonade, please.) Kettőt kérek. (Two, please.) Hideget kérek. (Cold, please.)

Following a numeral, the noun is always used in singular: turista – turisták – öt turista, sok turista, néhány turista. The underlying logic of the language in this case is that it is only necessary to indicate a phenomenon in one way. That is, if a numeral has already shown that more than a single thing or person is being mentioned, the plural of the nominal phrase becomes unnecessary.

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The verb

Depending on their types of conjugation, Hungarian verbs fall into two groups: a -verbs without "ik" ending, b – verbs with "ik" ending. The basis of this distinction is that verbs in the first group have no ending in the third person singular of present indicative. The suffix "-ik" is attached to this form in the case of verbs in the second group: visz – iszik. Since it is this third person of the verb that tells us most about the verbs’ respective conjugation, it is used as the dictionary form in Hungarian, as opposed to the infinitive which would not indicate which type the verb belongs to: vinni – visz; inni – iszik.

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The system of times is very simple in Hungarian. Only one present and one past time of the verb must be reckoned with. Future is expressed with an auxiliary verb or by simply adding adverbs of time. Various semantic means are used to express continuous and perfect aspects of the verb, these techniques, however, do not fall within the topic of conjugation. On the other hand, Hungarian has a feature unknown in other languages: the conjugation of verbs differs depending on whether the verb is not followed by an object (or the object is not concretely defined) – ‘non-accusative’ conjugation – or whether it is accompanied by an object – “accusative” conjugation. In addition, accusative conjugation is not only indicative of the person who is acting but also of the object of action (See Lesson 10): Szeretek sétálni. Szeretek egy lányt. Szeretem Annát. Szeretlek. (I like walking. I am in love with a girl. I love Ann. I love you.) These two types of conjugation are valid in all times and modes. However, no one should be discouraged by this peculiarity of Hungarian. Perhaps it will never be possible to learn it on the level of a native speaker, however, ignoring it does not interfere with meaning: its use is only a telling formality.


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